Pigs were unloaded off trains at the B&O rail yards and herded through nearby streets to the slaughterhouses. That’s the abbreviated version of how Pigtown got its name.
Neighborhoods of Baltimore
A tree-lined median bisects most of 33rd Street, stretching from the eastern edge of Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus all the way to the southwestern edge of Lake Montebello. To the north of 33rd from Old York Road to Ellerslie is Waverly; to the south is Better Waverly. They are two distinct neighborhoods, separated by that median, but connected by signs announcing entry to Waverly Village.
At its peak, Greektown was home to about 1,000 families. Now it’s around 600. People come and people go, mostly to the county. But the pull of this Southeast Baltimore neighborhood – particularly for Greek-Americans – remains strong.
“They come down to the restaurants, they come down to the little shops,” said Theo Harris, a Greektown resident and prominent local realtor. “Their weddings, their funerals, their baptisms, it’s all happening in the community. That’s really the bond.”
Stone houses from the 1850s sit on lush, spacious lots next to “new” construction built in the 1950s. Neighbors wave to one another on the streets, stopping for conversation with familiar faces and strangers alike. Our tour guide – the village’s unofficial historian – makes his living as a wood-turner.
We have entered Baltimore’s most anachronistic neighborhood. Welcome to Dickeyville.
“You might have heard today that there were three shootings that happened over there on Cold Spring. Part of that stuff is what we’re trying to weed out. That element, as long as drugs continue to rule …”
Julius “Julio” Colon is aware of the perception – and, as noted in the quote above, the reality – of Park Heights. In his role as president and CEO of Park Heights Renaissance, Colon sees evidence of urban blight every day. Vacant buildings throughout the neighborhood. Forty-some liquor stores dotting long stretches of Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road. Significantly higher-than-average rates of teen pregnancy, HIV infection and recidivism among residents.
From the exterior, the rowhouse at 1524 Hollins Street is indistinguishable from the other grand, three-story Victorians overlooking Union Square. Since 1997, when Baltimore closed its City Life museums, the interior has been left largely unkempt, save for some general maintenance efforts by the Friends of the H.L. Mencken House. But in the backyard blooms a lush urban garden, dutifully maintained by Betsey Waters and the Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy.
For Bill and Sharon Reuter, buying a house in Ridgely’s Delight 25 years ago was a relatively easy decision. The graphic designers, who were transferred to Baltimore from Connecticut, wanted a home downtown where they could get “more bang for your buck.” In the historic neighborhood where Babe Ruth was born, the Reuters found just what they were looking for. And then came a surprise.
By the turn of the 20th century, a “little Eden” had sprouted three miles north of downtown on Harford Road, The Baltimore Sun reported. Years later, the paper noted that “a hamlet set in the wilderness” had sprung to the south. In those early days, the neighborhoods of Hamilton and Lauraville were sprawling, suburban communities that stood in contrast to city life.
By several measures, Remington’s renaissance seems real. A decade of steady movement into the neighborhood, by businesses and residents, has changed the landscape and attracted visitors who can easily name popular spots: cocktail bar W.C. Harlan on West 23rd Street, bakery and cafe Sweet 27 on West 27th Street, and, on North Howard Street at the border of Charles Village, the coffee shop Charmington’s.